Di Zi Gui was a traditional Chinese guidebook for students when they first started school. Nevertheless, it is a moral compass not just for kids but also for people of all ages. It was first authored by scholar Li Yu Xiu in Qing Dynasty approximately 350 years ago and later formalized by Jia Cun Ren. It is based on Confucian’s philosophy of respect and love for parents, siblings, friends, everyone in the society, nature, and humanity. Di Zi Gui has a unique format that employs a three-character poem structure and each phrase in a poem consists of three characters. There are eight chapters about the general principles, guidance and instructions of how to respect and love parents, siblings, friends, and people you are dealing with, proper daily routines/self-discipline, how to develop trusting behaviors, how to cultivate humanity, how to nurture loving kindness, and how and what to study. Part of Di Zi Gui is written in an explicit manner to instruct people how to behave and can be viewed as etiquette, for example, “don’t address an older person by his name” and “don’t sit if an older person is standing unless told”. But for the most part, it offers a guideline of how to live a moral life.
Tai Chi Grandmaster Chen Zhenglei stated that Tai Chi Chuan is the treasure of Chinese culture. Tai Chi Chuan is influenced by the philosophy of Confucius as well as other ancient Chinese wisdom. Practicing Tai Chi Chuan can bring harmony to the mind and body. Learning the underlining Chinese philosophy can help Tai Chi practitioners to gain a holistic view of Tai Chi Chuan, thus elevating one’s Tai Chi Chuan knowledge. Grandmaster Chen is one of the few 9th Duan Tai Chi masters (or the highest ranked master sanctioned by Chinese Wushu Association) and a Top Ten Chinese Martial Art master. He has devoted himself to promoting the culture of Tai Chi Chuan worldwide for more than four decades and has taught over a million people directly and indirectly.
During a “Light of Tai Chi” (or Tai Chi Light) workshop held in June in Las Vegas, Nevada, Grandmaster Chen gave each of the attendees a special gift of a nicely printed copy of Di Zi Gui. The small book contains the history of Di Zi Gui and the entire verses of Di Zi Gui. It is printed in Chinese as well as in English. It also includes Pin Yin (phonetic spelling) for each of the Chinese characters to aid pronunciation.
Di Zi Gui contains 360 phrases or 1,080 characters. It took more than 30 minutes to go through. The attached video shows the workshop participants follow Master Jack Yan (on a stage) from Canada reading Di Zi Gui with concentration. 66-year-old Grandmaster Chen (next to the stage) joined the students and recited the entire verses.
Master Chen Juan of China enlightened everyone by explaining that Di Zi Gui was written in a rhythmic way for chanting. She taught the proper way to recite it and the correct breathing pattern. According to Master Chen, lung capacity will increase with consistent practice for a long time. That’s why many Tai Chi practitioners read Di Zi Gui as part of basic training for health.